Package travel and flight cancellations: do you claim from the airline or the organizer?
Passengers affected by the cancellation of a flight that is part of a package tour cannot claim reimbursement from the airline carrier, and instead have to claim a refund of the cost of their tickets from the organizer of their trip where they are protected by the legislation on package travel. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has so determined in a judgment delivered on July 10, 2019 (Case C-163/2018).
And this is how it replied to the requests for a preliminary ruling submitted over the interpretation of article 8.2 of Regulation 261/2004/EC of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights in a case of cancellation of flights that were part of a package tour. Two specific questions were submitted to the CJEU:
Must article 8.2 of the Regulation be interpreted as meaning that a passenger who has the right to hold his tour organizer liable for reimbursement of the cost of his air ticket, can no longer claim reimbursement of the cost of that ticket from the air carrier?; and
Can a passenger nevertheless hold the air carrier liable for reimbursement of the cost of his ticket if it is to be assumed that his tour organizer, if it were to be held liable, would be financially incapable of actually reimbursing the cost of the ticket?
The CJEU ruled that a passenger who under the legislation on package travel has the right to hold his tour organizer liable for reimbursement of the cost of his air ticket can no longer claim reimbursement of the cost of that ticket from the air carrier, on the basis of that regulation, even where the tour organizer is financially incapable of reimbursing the cost of the ticket and has not taken any measures to guarantee such reimbursement.
This decision may have implications for example in cases such as the recent insolvency proceeding on an international tour operator.